Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Of Parables and Protocol

You know what? This gift giving thing is getting out of control.

This year, I have one child in Elementary School and one in Middle School. Frankly, I was relieved that I wouldn't have to buy gifts for two teachers this year. I assumed (wrongly, wrongly) that giving teacher gifts was eschewed in Middle School because of the number of teachers involved. My son has 5 regular teachers (teachers whom he will have all year) and one "Connections" teacher. Connections are elective classes such as Language, Home Economics, Industrial Arts, and P.E. (Seriously? P.E. is elective??)that change quarterly.

Six teachers. And today I was clued in to the fact that all the other parents are indeed, buying gifts for all six teachers. Our first year in public Elementary school, I learned that most parents were buying gifts for the regular classroom teacher, the classroom Para-pro, and all the specials teachers; specials being Art, Music, Computer and P.E.

So let's take stock for a moment....If I follow the currently accepted and widely followed teacher gift giving protocol, I have to buy 12 gifts.

But that's not all. Most parents also buy gifts for the Principal and Vice-Principal.

The Lunch Ladies.

The bus driver.

Now we're up to 16 gifts.

Sixteen gifts, people. And you know you can't get away with any dollar store crap either. It's got to be quality merchandise. Home made goods are acceptable, but they must be creatively and attractively packaged, preferably with hand stamped wrapping made from 100% post consumer materials.

I can't deal with that kind of pressure.

And it doesn't stop there. Ohhhhhh no. There's the Mailman, the UPS guy, the Orkin Man, the Therapist.

It only dawned on me today that I should have bought a gift for Dr. A. I was waiting for Diminutive One to finish up his session when another patient arrived with a gaily wrapped package. I was stunned for two reasons. First, because I thought Dr. A was Jewish. Second, because apparently, the $175/hr I pay her isn't adequate to express my gratitude.

Now isn't that I don't appreciate what these people do. But the fact is, they are not providing me or my children with services out of the goodness of their collective hearts. They are being PAID a fair and competetive WAGE. I pay all these people directly or indirectly for their efforts. If I didn't pay them, would they continue to provide the service?

I don't mean to sound callous, but we are a one income family and frankly, we can't afford to give everyone who crosses our path a Christmas gift. And I don't really want to, to be quite honest. Call me Scrooge, call me a cheapskate, call me a three decker saurkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce ...but I give gifts to those I love, and those who have touched my life in some meaningful way. I would die without the Orkin guy, but I'm not really moved to tears when he shows up at my door with his little apparatus. In other words, I am not compelled to give him a gift for doing his job.

I do think that people who give of themselves deserve to be recognized in some way. I think selflessness and generosity deserve to be rewarded.

But is giving a random bauble hastily grabbed off of a store shelf really the best way to accomplish that?

What ever happened to the old adage, "It's the thought that counts"? And who decided that we should only do it at certain commercially sanctioned and relentlessly promoted holidays?

Is it any wonder that people are growing more and more disenchanted with holidays? It's become nothing but a growing list of obligations to be checked off. How many of us breathe a sigh of relief when it's over? How many of us really savor it anymore? How many of us truly LOVE it the way we did when we were children and Christmas was a light in our hearts instead of a burden on our souls?

I am not giving 16 gifts. I asked my oldest son to choose one teacher who had really made a difference to him this year and we will give a special something to him/her. The rest will get a card to express our thanks and wishes for a joyous holiday season.

If it's really the thought that counts, that will be enough. If its not, then I guess I can look forward to being branded a subversive skinflint.

But I won't be guilted into a disingenuous gesture and I will no longer aid the retail industry in turning Christmas into an empty capitalist sham.

Who's with me?

(Footnote: The bus driver does actually get an extra special something in his stocking for only kicking Diminutive One off the bus once this year and for letting him come back after two days.)


  • At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think The Subversive Skinflints is a great name for a band. Yet another home schooling benefit - no teacher gifts. Oh wait, that means I could buy myself something! Anyway, I think picking one teacher and giving cards to everyone else is a great idea.

  • At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am with you sister. I just don't do it. This year I gave Sean's two teachers each a box of candy and that was it. I don't care what other parents are doing. Even within our family, we all agreed this year that only the kids would get gifts. And it has made the holidays a lot more enjoyable.

  • At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've always given teacher gifts, but stopped when when my son was in junior high. I'm curious and suppose I should ask my daughter if she wants to give gifts to HER 6 teachers. Or maybe I just won't ask her. As for service providers - people I pay anyway - honestly I think that for utilizing their service and paying them, perhaps I'm the one who should be getting a gift at this time of year, in the form of a discount or a rebate! Actually I will leave a box of candy for my dog-sitters, and that's it.

  • At 8:45 AM, Blogger OhTheJoys said…

    I had to do FIVE daycare teachers -- and endure the LOOK from the ones I didn't do this morning.

    I give UP.

  • At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Since my kids go to rather affluent private school the parents association (to which I pay dues) gives each teacher $100 and sends a lengthy letter out each explaining that you do not have to give additional gifts and all of this was a result of parents trying to one up each other and bringing in gifts like laptops and flat screen monitors (yes this really happened)and because there is NO way we can keep up with that - I just have the girls write their teachers notes and then we add on our own thanks and leave it at that.

    The flip side of this is Hubby is a teacher at said school and I always look forward to seeing what he brings home - our favs are tree ornaments and homemade goodies however they are packaged because really they don't usually last long once they get home!

    Hope you have a wonderful holdiay BA!

  • At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    AMEN! My son (only 2 so no teachers yet) goes to a babysitter while my husband and I work. Those two ladies take such good care of him, love him like their own, and take so much guilt off my shoulders for being an office working mom that I will get them something.

    The retail establishment has virtually ruined Christmas for me. Not only do I feel guilty for not being able to spend thousands on the holiday (this year, I think we managed to stay under $1000 by some miracle) but I feel nervous about January and our ability to pay some of the bills. This is really the first year I was able to put a foot down and say there will be a limit. I don't want another January like I had at the beginning of 2006. That sucked.

  • At 10:37 AM, Blogger The Sour Kraut said…

    I am so with you on this one. A card expressing sincere thanks is so much more valuable than a purchased gift. I am guessing that the teachers appreciate the kind words and not getting another kitschy knick-knack.

  • At 10:57 AM, Blogger Foofa said…

    I think that is INSANE. Gift giving should never feel mandatory. At that point it isn't a gift it is an obligation. I think your choice was a good one.

  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger The Domesticator said…

    I am totally with you on this one. I think some of my friends think I am Scrooge, but I don't care. In our Elementary school, they took care of the whole gift giving thing by saying if your child wishes to give their teacher a gift, please make it handmade only. It has worked out pretty well. As far as the milkman, mailman, newspaper guy, etc, I don't buy for any of them. It takes the pressure off me and I'm OK with it.

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Mama of 2 said…

    Little Man is in 3rd grade and I do do teacher gifts at the elementary level. (it's only one mind you) but once he reaches the middle school/jr. High level those will be finished.

    I agree it's gotten way out of hand to the point like you said are we to give a gift to everyone that crosses our path? And why aren't those people receprocating? LOL

  • At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm with you. We're a one-income family too and it seems absolutely ridiculous to me to have to buy for *every* teacher. My mom was a teacher and back in her day, students bought for their homeroom teacher, and that was it. And lemmie tell ya, it wasn't anything spectatular...tins of cookies, "Grade A Teacher!" mugs, that sort of thing. No Prada or anything.

    I think what you're doing -- one special teacher and cards for the rest -- is fine. I might steal that idea in a few years.

  • At 4:56 PM, Blogger Mitzi Green said…

    oh, sister, i'm with you. i'm so with you it's not even funny.

    though i will admit i bought a collective gift for the bob's teachers--a bunch of craft stuff for the school--but that's really just a "thank you" for not having kicked him out already. nothing says holiday spirit like a good payoff.

  • At 8:49 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said…

    The gift giving problem was so bad in my district, where all the parents want to one-up all the other parents, that the board of ed passed a resolution saying teachers cannot accept the gifts. Now that's whacked if you ask me ... I say ONLY buy something SMALL for a teacher (gift cards are always the best!) if he/she has done something special for your kid or if the kid has a special relationship with him or her. Seriously. You are so right that it's out of hand.

  • At 8:51 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said…

    PS that's the district where I worked, not where I live.

  • At 10:00 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    Buying gifts for that many teachers and others seems insane to me too. A person could go broke shopping for that many people.

    My mother, who was a secretary at a small Catholic elementary school, would get gifts from so many of the kids in that school every year that she would forget who gave her what. I mean, she would come home with crates of loot. But it was the handmade, usually by the children themselves, or truly thoughtful gifts that she would remember. I say use your talents as a writer to pen a thoughtful sentiment on a nice card.

  • At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh my god. We were supposed to buy gifts for teachers?? Yeah, I guess that's not going to happen this year. Or ever.

  • At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am absolutely positively 100% with you. When my girls get to kindergarten, that will be the end of the teacher gifts. I don't give a rat's ass what the rest of the parents are doing. My gift to their teachers will be treating them with respect throughout the year and making sure that I do everything in my power to help my girls be good students.

    That said, I spoil the heck out of day care providers. They get paid CRAP, and they dote on my girls all year long.

  • At 1:06 PM, Blogger Sandra said…

    My son has three teachers and we made a donation in their name to buy school supplies for a school in a developing country and told them with a card. There were parents in teh class that bought them spa gift certificates and really elaborate presents. When I picked him up from school yesterday the teacher came out all teary and thanked me really loudly in front of the other parents because she said she doesn't want or need gifts but our gesture touched her and gave her something to teach to the class that day. That is the whole point of gift giving ... not the commercial crap. I am with you on that for sure!

  • At 11:09 AM, Blogger J. Denae said…

    I stopped buying gifts for teachers/coaches/principals etc. whe Bean was first grade. Her first grade teacher sent out a note that said she has enough coffee mugs/ornaments/magnets for five houses and since she asked Santa for a treadmill she doesn't "need" edible gifts. She encouraged parents to buy supplies for the classroom or donate to a charity if they felt like they had to do something. Somehow that made me feel freed from the obligations of unnecessary gifts.


Post a Comment

<< Home